Fall 2020 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Update

Diversity is critical to the mission of NC State and the Park Scholarships program. As Park staff and faculty engage in the active, sustained efforts required to counter racial injustice and systemic oppression, Park Scholarships will share periodic updates about the progress on its work to build a stronger and more diverse, equitable, and inclusive program.

Recruiting

Earlier in the semester, Park Scholarships staff enlisted the help of Park Alumni Society board member Dani Winter ’18 to expand alumni participation as Park Ambassadors. As the PAS liaison, Winter will help grow the number of alumni ambassadors who in turn recruit diverse and highly qualified Park Scholarships applicants all over the country. 

The Park Scholarships Diversity Student Task Force led the creation of Park Profiles — interviews with students and Selection Committee leaders that have been shared on the Park Scholarships website and social media channels. These contain individual reflections on both the program and the selection process designed to reflect the range of experiences within the Park community and encourage applicants from a variety of backgrounds to apply for the program. 

Selection

This fall, Park Scholarships launched Park Under-Resourced Assistance (PURA). The student-driven program provides support for under-resourced applicants to NC State University and the Park Scholarships program. The Diversity Student Task Force has also committed to producing a series of videos with tips for navigating the selection process.

NC State’s Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity has a trained and dedicated Bias Impact Report Team (BIRT). The BIRT process is a multi-step method for evaluating reports of bias and discrimination in which the BIRT assesses each incident and proposes actions. Information about the BIRT has been added to the Park Scholarships website, Selection Committee training materials, and communications with applicants.

Test scores have been removed from Selection Committee application materials. Modified training presentations and instructions emphasize ways to evaluate scholarship using other information available in the application. This has been the message in training materials in past years, and the emphasis continues to build on holistic ways to evaluate scholarship with the removal of test scores. For the 2020-2021 admissions cycle, NC State and the UNC System overall are test-optional.

Additional Selection Committee training materials have focused on how to consider disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enrichment

The curriculum of Leadership Academy, which in recent years has included seven sessions focused on diversity education, is changing. This year, the first three diversity sessions taken by the freshman class were merged into one longer session that adhered directly to the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) curriculum. Every year, Park Scholarships staff collaborate with a team of NC State colleagues and Park Scholars to create, adjust, and improve this curriculum. These sessions continue to be an essential part of how the program prepares Park Scholars to lead and serve.

A cohort of 14 volunteers including students, staff, faculty, alumni, Park Advisory Committee members, and a Selection Committee leader recently attended the Racial Equity Institute’s Groundwater workshop about how racism affects institutions and outcomes. Their input is helping Park staff evaluate how best to bring critical resources and training on understanding and addressing racism to the Park community. 

Student identity groups, which were piloted last year, have continued. Park staff facilitated meetings for the following identity groups:

  • People of color
  • People who identify as LGBTQ+
  • People from outside of North Carolina
  • People from under-resourced high schools/communities/families
  • People who have faced/are facing mental health challenges

Students, staff, and faculty have been invited to propose additional identity groups.

Advancement

On NC State Day of Giving: Stronger As a Pack, the Park Scholarships program launched the One Park One Pack: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Fund which received gifts totaling more than $133,000. This fund will build and expand essential diversity, equity, and inclusion programming for students and the greater Park Scholarships community. Already, a portion of the funding has been used to pay for attendance at the Racial Equity Institute’s Groundwater workshop as described above. The fund ensures all that of the initiatives described in this message will have long-term financial support.

Staff and Faculty Training

In addition to NC State’s diversity learning modules, most Park Scholarships staff and Park Faculty Scholars have earned NC State’s Cultural Competence and Inclusivity Certificate, and several Park Scholars have earned the corresponding Developing Cultural Competence Certificate offered by NC State’s Global Training Initiative. All Park Scholarships staff have completed the Racial Equity Institute’s two-day Phase 1 training which presents a historical, cultural, and structural analysis of racism. Most of the Park Scholarships staff are members of NC State’s 2020-2021 GLBT Advocate Program and several Park Scholars are part of the program’s corollary GLBT Student Advocate Program

The Park Scholarships program values and supports these opportunities because they position staff and faculty to better address the needs of the Park community. Staff and faculty continue to pursue training beyond what is detailed above.


This update is not a comprehensive account of all of the adjustments and improvements the program is currently pursuing; many more changes are in progress. For additional information about the Park Scholarships program’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, visit park.ncsu.edu/diversity.